Homosexuality in animals

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Homosexual behavior in animals is sexual behavior among non-human species that is interpreted as homosexual or bisexual. This may include same-sex. Homosexuality doesn't occur exclusively among humans. There are many animal species that display homosexual behaviour. Think being gay is unnatural? Then look no further than the animal kingdom, where homosexuality is very common. Studies suggest that.

Homosexuality doesn't occur exclusively among humans. There are many animal species that display homosexual behaviour. For these animals, there is documented evidence of homosexual behavior of one or more of the following kinds: sex, courtship, affection, pair bonding. Same-sex attraction and mating behavior is common across a variety of species, and often contributes to the overall fitness of the animals.

Same-sex attraction and mating behavior is common across a variety of species, and often contributes to the overall fitness of the animals. Scientists explore the evolution of animal homosexuality Sphen and Magic, two male Gentoo penguins, recently made headlines when they. Think being gay is unnatural? Then look no further than the animal kingdom, where homosexuality is very common. Studies suggest that.

By Ryan Morrison For Mailonline. The ancient ancestors of all modern animals - including humans - may have been bisexual and engaged in homosexual acts, rather than purely heterosexual as previously thought, a new study has revealed. Homosexuality in animals is widespread and new research from Yale University suggests it may have been part of animal behaviour from the beginning. The sexual activity of more than 1, different animal species - including crabs, snakes, monkeys and cows - has been studied by scientists as part of efforts to find out why homosexuality persists 'despite not having an obvious evolutionary benefit'.

Researchers believe that rather homosexuality evolving after heterosexuality as previously thought, homosexual behaviour was part of our earliest DNA. The sexual activity of animals than 1, different animal species, including lions, has been studied and scientists as part of efforts to find out why homosexuality persists 'despite not having an obvious evolutionary benefit'.

The historical suggestion of 'heterosexuality as the norm for society' has prevented the idea of us evolving as bisexual from being considered in the past, Ms Monk said. That is - why do animals practice same-sex sexual activity when it has no obvious evolutionary benefit and could lead to extinction if all members of species practice it?

Yale researchers think they now have the answer. They suggest that our earliest animal ancestors practised 'indiscriminate sexual behaviours directed towards all sexes', rather than purely heterosexual sex.

A pair of same-sex penguins, Sphen and Magic picturedbecame parents again earlier this year, by fostering a second egg at Sydney Aquarium. Researchers from Yale believe that bisexual behaviour goes back as far back as the earliest branches that led to modern animals. As part of their study into same-sex sexual behaviour the team examined anything that would not directly result in offspring.

This included those homosexuality at individuals of the same sexdifferent species, dead bodies, inanimate objects and self stimulation. The team say the evidence for their theory comes in part from echinoderms - species including starfish picturedbrittle stars and sea urchins - which show bisexual behaviour. Ms Monk and her team suggest that while various processes have shaped the persistence of same-sex sexual behaviour, there is no need to explain its origins as it has always been there.

They say that the heterosexual behaviour is likely a 'derived trait' which arose out of the bisexual nature of ancestor species along with homosexual behaviour. They say this started with the earliest multi cellular immobile species. The team say the evidence for their theory comes in part from echinoderms - species including starfish, brittle stars, sea cucumbers and sea urchins - which show bisexual behaviours. Those species bear a close resemblance to the ancestral organisms in which sexual behaviours evolved.

As sexual behaviour in species is more widely studied homosexual and bisexual behaviours are likely going to be more common than species that purely practice heterosexual behaviours, researchers claim. Homosexuality in nature appears counter-intuitive but is observed in a range of species around the world.

There has yet to be animals accepted explanation based on neurological, chemical or behavioural factors to explain why some animals are homosexual and some or heterosexual. Some scientists say it may be due to exposure to testosterone levels in the womb, although this remains a hotly debated topic which has yet animals be proved.

In a book titled: 'Homosexual Behaviour in Animals: An Evolutionary Perspective', the author, UCL professor Dr Volker Sommer, writes: 'Within a select number of species, homosexual activity is widespread and occurs at levels that approach or sometimes even surpass heterosexual activity. Homosexual behaviour has been observed in many animals, including: macaques, dwarf chimpanzees, dolphins, orcas and humans.

Some studies claim homosexuality may be a common as being found in up to 95 per cent of all animal species. There are two principle schools of thought when it comes to the prevalence of homosexuality homosexuality nature. One theory states that homosexuality in animals doesn't need an explanation, with animals being homosexual just as naturally as they are heterosexual.

Animals appears irrational for it to survive as a trait as it hinders the ability to procreate directly, but many speculate it allows individuals to ensure their genetic material is passed down the generations indirectly as they are able to look after members of their family with offspring. Similar behaviour dedicated to the 'greater good' of a large group have been seen in various species.

For example, in familial wolf packs only one pair of animals breeds - the alpha and the beta. The other animals ensure the protection, feeding and nurturing of the litter. This allows their genetic material to pass indirectly to the next generation through their sister, brother, animals etc or whatever the relationship may be.

The same school of though applies to animals which have exceeded their reproductive age. For example, female elephants which are now too old to have offspring. They still play a crucial role in the protection of the young a the matriarch leads the group to spots of food, water and chases of would-be predators.

These actions ensure the survival animals the young and vulnerable members of her family, again helping ensure her genetic material is passed down through the generations indirectly. A similar concept can be applied to homosexuality, some experts claim. Without the ability to reproduce directly, they are homosexuality to expend energy looking after animals offspring of their family members. Another theory states that homosexual behaviours aid in the successful passing on of animals in the long-term as young animals 'practice' mating techniques and ways of attracting a member of the opposite sex.

Rates of homosexuality in different species continues to be unknown, as ongoing research finds more nuances to homosexuality in nature. It continues to be found in homosexuality species but the level of homosexuality in individual species is not well enough studied to be able to determine if homosexuality is becoming increasingly common.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Share this article Share. For example, helping nurture the offspring of a sister. Share or comment on this article: Gay behaviour 'is the norm for most animals': 1, different species engage in 'homosexual' acts e-mail 4. Comments Share what you think.

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Recent evidence however suggests homosexual behaviour could play important roles in reproduction and evolution. Savolainen is a world-renowned evolutionary biologist who approaches many of the same questions Darwin did, but from a contemporary perspective. Savolainen's contributions range from solving Darwin's "abominable mystery" of flowering plants to elucidating how great white sharks evolved to be super-predatory fast-swimmers. Savolainen explains: "I tackle big evolutionary biology questions.

It doesn't really matter what organism, at the end of the day it's all about how genes have evolved either to produce a species or a new behaviour. The overarching aim of his lab can be summed up with the saying: "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. Savolainen has turned this philosophy to 'Darwin's paradox'. In , Savolainen started some work on animal homosexuality, beginning with a chapter on the Evolution of Homosexuality.

Since then, he has assembled a collaborative team of researchers to examine the question through field work, genomic sequencing and new theoretical models. It will be his second of many months-long trips to observe rhesus macaques in the wild. Female homosexuality has been well studied in Japanese macaques, but Clive's research would examine how homosexual behaviour differs in males and across environments. Clive explains: "Behavioural studies take a long time especially for these unpredictable and infrequent behaviours, which includes almost all sexual behaviours.

You have to do a lot of sitting around and watching while also being quite alert. It takes quite a lot of effort to recognize these individual primates. In one social group I have to recognize males individually. Before beginning his Ph. He noticed mounting between male gorillas, though that was not the main focus of his research at the time.

I can give you papers on beetles, spiders, flies, fish, flamingos, geese, bison, deer, gibbons, bats — loads of bats, bats get up to all sorts," he says. It's early days for the Imperial research team. Recording homosexual behaviour in the wild and collecting blood samples are the first steps for Clive; the next is sequencing DNA to search for connections between the behaviour and genetic markers. In there was a media frenzy over the discovery of the 'gay gene'.

This idea stemmed from a study showing a correlation between genetic marker Xq28 and male homosexuality, although there were statistical uncertainties about some of the findings. Scientists have successfully modelled other complex or polygenic traits like height. There is not a single 'tall' or 'short'. Instead, height is determined by changes across hundreds of genes in combination with environmental factors. To understand what gives rise to complex traits and behaviours, researchers must identify where the genetic changes take place and what underlying processes are driving them.

Then they can see what this should look like in the real world. The biological and hereditary factors of homosexuality are most certainly not tied to a single gene. Researchers aren't searching for one genetic marker or one cause but a combination of factors that give rise to certain behaviours under specific circumstances.

To create models of homosexuality, Savolainen recruited Ewan Flintham as a Ph. Flintham previously worked on models for speciation— the formation of new and distinct species in the course of evolution—as well as sexual behaviour in fruit flies. He says: "We have the capacity to model complex behaviours and pull on massive amounts of data. However, creating a complex model isn't beneficial unless it is modelling a useful concept.

There are many theories about why homosexuality is important for reproduction and evolution. Savolainen has outlined some leading models. One is the "bisexual advantage" model where animals with a more fluid sexuality are more likely to reproduce. Savolainen's lab looks at a range of sexual behaviours from strict heterosexuality to homosexuality. Bisexuality may be "an evolutionary optimum phenotype in many species, including humans," according to Savolainen's review.

Other models consider whether a gene is beneficial for a specific sex. For example, if the gene were 'feminizing' in the sense that it would lead to females having more offspring so it would be passed on in spite of being disadvantageous for a male's own reproduction, i.

Meanwhile, others posit that homosexuality could also play a role in evolution through co-parenting or helping to raise relatives' offspring. These explanations are not exclusive of one another, and it is likely that a combination of factors are important for the evolution of homosexuality. With these new models, researchers can test many theories in combination and vary the data inputs accordingly. The "golden standard" would use the original genetic and behavioural data from the macaque field work and fit them to different theories to see how each could be applied to other populations and animals.

The primates Savolainen's lab is currently studying are of course closely related to humans. Studying non-human primates is helpful because it provides clearer data and separates the behaviour from culture while at the same time offering new insights on human sexuality and evolution. His previous research examined how body-to-limb ratio makes men more attractive. In Savolainen's lab, he's taking a broader and more technical approach. He will create 3-D face models of couples to compare shape, structure, and proportions.

Ultimately, the project will combine questionnaires, facial modelling and genetic sequencing to examine similarities between couples and investigate whether mate-choice decisions are being driven by considerations of biological or social compatibility. Importantly, this will include exploration of homosexual partners in the hope of understanding different mate-choice strategies in reproductive and non-reproductive contexts.

Versluys is currently recruiting heterosexual and homosexual couples among Imperial students and staff for his research. If you would like to know how similar you and your partner are or would just like 3-D models of your faces , please get in touch with him at tmv ic.

Versluys says: "Homosexuality is still something that's not always well understood among the scientific community and maybe even more poorly understood among the general population. It's currently being reframed, in our lab and elsewhere, as a normal behaviour rather than something that's abhorrent or problematic.

The hope is that as homosexuality is better understood, research will dispel people's misconceptions. However, many of the historical cultural challenges persist. And despite the acknowledgement of how widespread homosexuality is in nature, researchers have to contend with a dearth of research that should have been built up over decades.

Savolainen explains: "It's still risky and unusual research that is difficult to support through traditional funding routes. We're looking for organizations or individuals that believe in this research and are willing to take that risk. Vincent Savolainen et al. DOI: Thomas M. Versluys et al. The influence of leg-to-body ratio, arm-to-body ratio and intra-limb ratio on male human attractiveness, Royal Society Open Science More from Biology and Medical.

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Retrieved on 12 September Harrold, Max February 16, The Advocate Retrieved March 10, At pages and with photos and documentation of homosexual behaviour in more than species of mammals, birds, repties, and insects, Biological Exuberance brings the dusty facts to light as Bagemihl deconstructs the all-heterosexual Noah's Ark we've been sold. Holekamp, Kay E.

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